Have you ever noticed how tasks expand to fit their deadline?
Whether simple task or complex project, they always seem to finish right before their deadline.
They take, well, just as much time as you give them.
Expanding Time = Expanding Projects
Here is a trick question: “How long will that new 6-month project take to finish?”
Answer: At least 6 months.
Why? Because projects fill the time they are allotted.
The interesting question is, “How long would the same project have taken if it was only given 3 months?”
Could the same work have been completed?
Often, especially in corporate environments, the answer is YES.
“Projects and tasks will expand to fit the allowed time even if the full time is not needed.”
So, why do we let deadlines be so slack?
Maybe it is because we have come to take deadlines for granted. We expect people not to abide by them, so we give outrageously long timeframes in the hope that the work will be completed.
Unfortunately, this often backfires. When the deadline is not met and an extension is granted, an unnecessarily long time has already elapsed.
And of course, that deadline extension leads to another.
The Power of Tight Deadlines
The next time you are setting a deadline, set it for less time than you think the task will take.
By keeping tight deadlines, you will increase your productivity and get more done.
Don’t underestimate the power of tight deadlines…
- Ignites Creativity – Nothing can spur creativity and imagination like a tight deadline. If you had one month to do that project instead of six, how would you do it? Sometimes the best ideas come from a lack of time.
- Reduces Wasted Time - It is better to err of the side of too little time. When you keep deadlines tight, you avoid unnecessary slack time in your work and projects. If you underestimate the time needed, you can give yourself more time. On the other hand, if you give excessive time, it will be used up by the work.
- Encourages Teamwork – Nothing builds relationships like teamwork on a tight deadline. People bond when they work together to meet a common goal or deadline.
- Builds Confidence – You stretch your limits when you accomplish something you did not think you could do. Finishing something in less time than you thought possible builds confidence to do even better next time. Often, you are stronger than you think.
- Finishes Early – Finishing in less time, allows for review (and even re-work). It also reduces stress. If that report is due in 1 month and you finish it in 3 weeks, you will have extra time to reflect and even improve.
- Makes the Impossible Possible – Sometimes it takes a tight deadline to make the impossible happen. When you combine the above powers, you might be amazed at what can be accomplished in a short time frame. Deadline pressure can make magical things happen.
Give Yourself a Little Less Time
The next time you are setting the deadline for your work or projects, keep it tight.
Give yourself a little less time than you think may be needed.
You might surprise yourself. (Or your boss…)
You just might make “Mission Impossible” into “Mission Accomplished.”
Do you keep your deadlines tight?